Prince Fielder, Buster Posey

Bad baserunning, bottom of the lineup does in the Tigers


One of the big stories of the 2006 World Series is how poor fielding from the Tigers’ pitchers did the team in. In 2012, the focus might go a similarly specific problem; bad slides led to two outs and cost Detroit at least one run in a 2-0 loss in Game 2.

The Tigers lost a run in the second, when Delmon Young doubled and Prince Fielder’s horrible baserunning allowed Buster Posey to employ a swipe tag at the plate. Posey, who has forbidden from blocking the plate since last year’s collision, was up the line and never would have been able to reach Fielder had he taken a wider angle to the plate. Instead, Fielder was actually running inside the baseline by the time he was approaching Posey. He still almost got in anyway, but Dan Iassogna made the right call at the plate.

If Fielder had scored, the Tigers would have had a 1-0 lead, a man on second and no outs, putting them in position to do some real damage against Madison Bumgarner. Instead, Bumgarner got out of the inning scoreless.

The second bad slide came on Omar Infante’s caught stealing to end the fourth. That one probably wasn’t so costly, but maybe Young would have come through again with a man on base. For what little it’s worth, he struck out to open the next inning.

The Tigers are also suffering from a lack of production at the bottom of the lineup, which was a recurring theme even when the pitcher wasn’t hitting during the regular season. The Tigers don’t have a hit from their seven, eight or nine hitters through two games. Things might get better there now that the Tigers are returning to Detroit and can employ the DH. Andy Dirks is probably the team’s fourth-best hitter, and he’ll be back in the lineup with right-handers on the mound the next two games.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.